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Intuitive Ethics and Sensitive Technologies (INEST)
Start date: 01 Oct 2008, End date: 31 Oct 2010 PROJECT  FINISHED 

"The broad objective of the Intuitive Ethics and Sensitive Technologies (INEST) project is to advance the understanding of factors underlying public perceptions of sensitive technologies – technologies whose implications intersect with social values and challenge presumptions about the natural order and life. It is intended to move the field beyond static descriptions of public opinion to the dynamics of intuitive (public) ethics, characterised by social values, moral dilemmas and competing world views. An interdisciplinary framework will be developed integrating findings from studies of technology perception with theories and concepts from moral psychology, social psychology, anthropology and sociology. This framework will guide a programme of empirical research that includes quantitative and qualitative analyses of intuitive ethics and a case study on synthetic biology. While it is assumed that every technology has some unique characteristics, it is also assumed that in the public mind there a ‘family resemblances’ between different technologies. Some such family resemblances are the result of challenges to widely accepted notions of the natural order and life, raising similar ethical concerns among the public – concerns that extend beyond utilities and risks. The research will identify the dimensions of sensitivity and explore their mutual interactions and conflicts. This will provide a better theoretical understanding of public perceptions of technologies, tools for the early identification of potentially controversial technologies and support for devising agendas for public engagement."
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